Postdoc: CHIRALFORCE – Sorting matter by handedness: Chiral optical forces in nanophotonic systems

Date posted December 5, 2022
Type Postdoc positions

In this project we will develop the physics of chiral optical forces in nanophotonic integrated systems for physical separation of chiral matter. 

Since most of the molecular building blocks of life are chiral, there is a large need for handedness-specific detection, synthesis, and separation of molecules. In this project you will leverage advances in the exciting emerging field of chiral nanophotonics for separating chiral matter by handedness. The chiral nature of matter usually expresses in optics as a very weak circular dichroism or optical rotation effect. Chiral nanophotonics seeks to strongly magnify these weak chiroptical effects: shaping locally the polarization properties of confined light in nanoscale waveguides and resonators to create socalled “superchiral” light.  Beyond optical signatures like strongly enhanced circular dichroism, also enantio-selective optical forces are predicted . We envision such enantiomer-selective forces for separating chiral molecular matter.

You will work in an EU-funded EIC Pathfinder programmae called “CHIRALFORCE”, which has as ultimate aim to realize sorting of chiral analytes on basis of enantio-selective optical forces that are generated by spin properties of light propagating in nanophotonic waveguides. This EU program brings together international partners with expertise in chiral nanophotonic design, in the realization of integrated nanophotonics, in design and synthesis of chiral molecules and nanoparticles, in microfluidics, and in polarimetric scatterometry. Within this consortium, our task at AMOLF will be to design and perform experiments that quantify the optical scattering properties of, and chiral optical forces exerted on, chiral matter by means of optical microcopy. You will build on recent developments at AMOLF in fully polarimetrically resolved Fourier microscopy , which provides a unique tool to quantify the imprint of chiroptical effects on the differential scattering cross section of nano-objects with chiral polarizability, as function of their placement in structured chiral near-fields.  In the second phase of the project you will implement tools from the optical tweezers community to quantify forces, and will study chiral sorting performance.

About the group

The Resonant Nanophotonics group is part of the AMOLF Physics of Information in Matter department, and part of the AMOLF collaborative training center for nanophotonics. The group, headed by Prof. Dr. Femius Koenderink, investigates the fundamental physics of light-matter interactions at the nanoscale as well as applications of nanophotonics in solid-state lighting, quantum technology, optical metrology and microscopy. The infrastructure of the group includes single-molecule microscopy,  scatterometry of single nano-objects, microcavities and integrated optics, and also femtosecond two-color interrogation of plasmonic and dielectric nano-antennas and metasurfaces. The project will benefit from the Amsterdam Nanolab cleanroom, in which you will fabricate integrated dielectric circuits and nanoscatterers. We will work with the Self-organizing Matter group of Prof. Dr. Wim Noorduin at AMOLF, giving us access to enantiopure chiral test materials in form of microparticles, colloids, and molecules.

The Resonant Nanophotonics group is a compact and friendly research team, characterized as curiosity driven, eager to explore new experiments, theory and applications alike, and where it is a core value to be collaborative and supportive to each other. Every week we hold group meetings,  and have departmental colloquia and poster sessions that cover the breadth of nanophotonics research at AMOLF.

For the project we will collaborate closely with  a network of project partners in Spain (Universitat Politecnica de Valencia, Prof. Alejandro Martínez), the UK (King’s college, Dr. Francisco Rodríguez Fortuño), Italy (University of Milan, Dr. Francesca Baletto) and the Netherlands (Twente University, Prof. Han Gardeniers, and SYMERES BV). 


You need to meet the requirements for a doctors-degree and must have research experience in a non-Dutch academic environment.

We seek an excellent candidate with a background in optical physics,  preferably in nanophotonics and/or spectroscopy.  Candidates who have  experience with experimental techniques, yet also have affinity to nanophotonics modelling are especially encouraged to apply. The successful candidate has a collaborative spirit, and is eager to learn about project management, being co-responsible for liaising with the European project partners and EU project reporting. The group strongly values diversity, and researchers from all backgrounds are invited to apply.

Terms of employment

The position is intended as full-time (40 hours / week, 12 months / year) appointment in the service of the Netherlands Foundation of Scientific Research Institutes (NWO-I) for the duration of  up to 3 years, with a salary in scale 10 (CAO-OI) and a range of employment benefits. AMOLF assists any new foreign Postdoc with housing and visa applications and compensates their transport costs and furnishing expenses.

Contact info

Prof.dr. Femius Koenderink
Group leader Resonant Nanophotonics
Phone: +31 (0)20-754 7100

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–  Resume; 
–  Motivation on why you want to join the group (max. 1 page). 
It is important to us to know why you want to join our team. This means that we will only consider your application if it entails your motivation letter. 

Applications will be evaluated on a rolling basis and as soon as an excellent match is made, the position will be filled.

Online screening may be part of the selection.

AMOLF is highly committed to an inclusive and diverse work environment. Hence, we greatly encourage candidates from any personal background and perspective to apply.

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